Publication Date

November 1, 2006

Perspectives Section


At the 2007 AHA annual meeting, the Western Association of Women Historians (WAWH) will cosponsor, with the Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH), the roundtable "Women's History Organizations: Are They Still Relevant in the 21st Century? Two Generations Respond." Members from the WAWH, CCWH, Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), and Southern Association of Women Historians (SAWH), will discuss the history and relevance of women's history organizations in the past and today.

The WAWH, founded in 1969 by Linda Kerber and Grace Larson to promote the interests of women historians both in academic settings and in the field of history generally, was accepted as an affiliate of the AHA in 2006. Drawing scholars mainly from the Western states, but also from across the country, the WAWH is the largest of the regional women's historical associations in the United States.

The organization met for the first time in June 1969 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California. The WAWH has held an annual spring conference each year since then for the presentation of new research and the discussion of teaching methods, writing, and other issues of importance to women scholars. The conference usually rotates between Southern California and Northern California, but in recent years has been held in Oregon and Arizona. Sessions devoted to the work and interests of graduate students are encouraged. The conference is a good mix of quality scholarship, collegiality, and friendly support for fellow historians. In recent years keynote speakers have included Linda Gordon, Natalie Zemon Davis, Leila Rupp, Nancy Cott, and Deborah Gray White.

Four awards are presented each year at the WAWH Awards Banquet: The Founders' Dissertation Fellowship, the Barbara "Penny" Kanner Award, the Judith Lee Ridge Prize, and the Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize. The Founders' Dissertation Fellowship is a $1000 award which may be used by an ABD for any expenses related to the dissertation. The Founders' Dissertation Fellowship Award is open to all fields of history. This award has been offered since 1986.

The WAWH presents $500 as the Barbara "Penny" Kanner Award for the best scholarly bibliographical and historical guide to research focused on women or gender history. Since 1994, the Kanner Award Committee has worked to promote the practice of bibliomethodology or autobiography in historical context. The bibliomethodology award reflects the critical tools of the historian's craft as they have been developed to provide research guides rather than library catalogues. The autobiography-in-historical-context award reflects the craft of history as developed and interpreted in individual lives.

Each year since 1985, the WAWH has awarded $100 for the Judith Lee Ridge Prize for the best article in the field of history published by a WAWH member. All fields of history will be considered, and articles must be submitted with full scholarly apparatus. The organization is currently working to endow this prize which was established by Martin Ridge.

The WAWH also gives the Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Book Prize ($500) for the best monograph in the field of history published by a WAWH member. Since 1982, the Keller-Sierra Prize has recognized works such as Victorian Women: A Documentary Account of Women's Lives in Nineteenth Century England, France, and the United States,Never Done: A History of American Housework,A Peculiar People:' Slave Religion and Community Culture Among the Gullah, The King's Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madam du Coudray, and many others. 

All applicants must be WAWH members. All award information, applications, and previous winners are posted on the organizational web site, The organization has grown and developed in many different ways since 1969, and we look forward to continuing to support women historians. Membership is not limited to women or historians in the Western states, and is open to people from all fields of history.

For the first time, in 2007, our organization will gather in the San Diego area. We will meet May 4–6, 2007, at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. Our keynote speaker will be Asunción Lavrin.

Please consult the association web site at for more information about the organization. If you have any questions contact , the executive director, at


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